Well, we've reached that strange time of the year when the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is generally hotter than we are. My in-laws in Memphis told us of heat over 100 degrees--that's the actual temperature, not the heat index. Likewise for my family in the D.C. area and my friends in South Carolina.
Our record breaking summer highs down here in South Florida are in the neighborhood of 96 degrees. It certainly feels hot, with brilliant, searing sunshine, but it's simply not the same as the swampy heat that I've experienced in other Southern states. There's usually a sea breeze down here which cuts down on the humidity.
Don't get me wrong, I don't go out for a walk or a jog in the middle of the day. I hide out in my cool, air conditioned house. I get a lot of reading done. This year, since we haven't had much in the way of thunderstorms (or rain at all, a very dry rainy season thus far, which makes me fretful), I also find myself writing more.
I've been enjoying Sandy Longhorn's blog posts where she's been writing a draft a day. I especially find her experiments with other media for inspiration to be similarly inspiring. Here she talks about the poem she composes after looking at a book of photographs of the great plains. Here and here, here and here she talks about how she uses other books of poems for inspiration. Here and here she talks about the inspiration cards that she's crafted, and how they inspire the day's writing. Here and here she talks about the catalogue of an art show and the art show itself as the starting place for work. Her blog postings offer fascinating insight into the world of creativity. She gives us just enough from the work to whet my appetite. Plus, I found them inspiring. Some of my own lines from the last two weeks have come from reading about her varied approaches.
I often find the blogsite How a Poem Happens offering inspiration, but the interview with Roger Mitchell has kept me turning lines around in my head for weeks now. He references Vallejo (" I will die in Paris in the rain") and Donald Justice (“I will die in Miami in the sun”), and I have found that pattern intriguing: I will ____________ in _______in the _____________. I haven't come up with much more than first lines, but some day, one of them will zoom off.
But maybe it's all too cerebral. Maybe I should try something else. Joanie Stangeland offers this interesting, multi-day approach to writing here. It sounds like something that might loosen the grip that narrative retains over me. It sounds like it would make me experiment with line breaks.
I think of previous summer solstices, and all the parties I used to throw. Once, before a party, a friend and I went to have wings. We got the atomic variety. What were we thinking? My friend, who really likes hot food, looked at me halfway through and said, "This is killing me, so I know it must be killing you." All night, as my friends arrived with their favorite summer foods, and we watched the soft dark take over the yard, I found that I couldn't really taste anything. It took me days to recover.
My days of throwing big parties are over. I prefer a quiet time to write and read. The Summer Solstice makes a good time to pause and consider what we wanted to accomplish this year. I yearn for a book length publication, and I've been doing a fairly good job of sending out manuscripts. I need to keep doing that.
I also need to keep working on writing new work. Like Sandy Longhorn, I wonder if I'm pushing myself enough. Summer Solstice is a good time to make some assessments and adjustments.
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